At 34 years old, Barcelona legend Lionel Messi’s departure from the club due to financial constraints marks a new chapter in his illustrious career, one that includes a record-breaking six Golden Ball awards. Behind every stride of Messi’s remarkable journey, his father Jorge has been an unwavering influence and guiding force.
Contrary to the speculations, it’s Messi’s father who has wielded the most significant influence off the pitch. A former metal factory worker in Rosario, Argentina, Jorge Messi has been the driving force in his son’s development. He even coached Lionel during his early days at local team Grandoli before his move to Newell’s Old Boys.
When Lionel needed hormone injections due to a growth disorder, it was Jorge who provided his son with an opportunity at Barcelona. The family relocated to Spain when Lionel was just 13 years old. The young prodigy impressed coaches and clubs, eventually leading to Barcelona’s interest.
Jorge Messi’s role as coach and mentor continued as he guided Lionel through his initial steps in football. Even at the age of 10, when Lionel faced a growth disorder, his father ensured his son received the costly treatment. However, when Newell’s Old Boys couldn’t sponsor them, Jorge took Lionel on a trip that sparked rumors and conjecture. Little did anyone know, the purpose was to explore opportunities with Barcelona.
Though the initial visit to La Masia Academy didn’t yield an immediate contract offer, Lionel’s natural aptitude for the sport caught the coaches’ attention. He returned to Rosario briefly, during which Jorge arranged a trial with River Plate to exert pressure on Barcelona. Eventually, with his family advisors present, Lionel’s agreement with Barcelona was scribbled on a napkin.
Although his first contract offered a salary of £120,000 a year, which also covered the hormone treatment he required, 12 months later, Barcelona’s general manager expressed disappointment in the substantial sum offered to a teenage player. Nonetheless, Lionel’s family continued to be his anchor, providing him with the motivation to persevere.